One of the best ways to use miles & points is to make unforgettable memories with loved ones. And even better if you include once-in-a-lifetime experiences most folks normally wouldn’t be able to afford.
Million Mile Secrets team member Keith recently returned from a 25,000 mile around-the-world honeymoon to Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, Bali, and Singapore. I’ll let him tell you about it!
Keith: Thanks Daraius! My wife Liz and I built up hundreds of thousands of miles from credit card sign-up bonuses and bank promotions that we used to visit 5 countries on an around-the-world honeymoon.
Due to work commitments, we only had 17 days to circle the globe. This might not seem like enough time for such a trip. But, I’ll explain how we made the most of our time and enjoyed a romantic dinner at one of Amsterdam’s top restaurants, rest and relaxation in Bali, a beautiful hike and Afternoon Tea in Cape Town, cultural experiences in Dubai, and much more!
I’m happy to share how I paid ~$6,700 for a trip with a retail cost of ~$53,000!
Around-the-World Honeymoon Trip Series:
- Part 1 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Booking Flights
- Part 3 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Booking Hotels
- Part 4 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Making Airports More Enjoyable
- Part 5 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Highlights of Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, Bali, and Singapore
- Part 6 – Around-the-World Honeymoon – Tips to Book YOUR Trip!
5 Tips for Booking Your Trip
My wife and I had the most amazing time on our around-the-world honeymoon. And thanks to miles and points, our dream trip became reality. We visited 5 new countries, experienced new cultures, and had terrific travel accommodations along the way.
I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to share how we planned for our honeymoon, booked flights and hotels, and highlights of our trip.
Here are 5 tips that can help you book YOUR trip!
Earn Miles & Points With Transferrable Points Programs
When you book a big trip with many different flights and hotels, you’ll want to have miles and points that give you the most travel flexibility.
For our trip, we used miles and points from the 4 major transferable programs:
This gave us many options for our trip, especially with flights. For example, we booked award flights on 4 different airlines by using transferable points including:
- American Express Membership Rewards points for Delta Business Class flight
- American Express Membership Rewards points for KLM Business Class flight
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Singapore Airlines
- Citi ThankYou points for JetBlue Mint Business Class flights
Take Advantage of Limited-Time Sign-Up Bonuses or Offers
Earlier in the series, I listed 4 sign-up bonuses my wife and I earned that were higher than current offers on those same cards. The higher offers were either targeted or limited-time offers.
With certain banks like AMEX, sometimes you can find higher sign-up bonus offers through their website.
Here’s the tip. If you’ve been thinking about getting a specific card and find a limited-time offer with a higher sign-up bonus, you might want to apply if it will help your travel goals. Sometimes limited-time offers only last a few days, or even a few hours!
Remember, you don’t always need to apply for a credit card to earn a sign-up bonus. My wife and I earned 50,000 ThankYou points each by opening Citigold checking accounts.
Earning bonuses that don’t require much of your time or a credit inquiry can be an easy way to build your points balances and meet your travel goals!
Set Goals for Earning Miles & Points
After you plan your trip and research award flight costs, set a realistic target for earning enough miles and points for your trip. You’ll be surprised how a few sign-up bonuses can be enough to save thousands on Business Class flights and 5-star hotel stays.
It took 18 months for my wife and I to accumulate enough miles and points for our around-the-world honeymoon trip. But, we were also able to use miles for trips to Hawaii, Mexico, and Paris. And, when we were planning our wedding, we used miles for several transcontinental flights from Los Angeles to New York.
If you’re new to points hobby, you can start slow and apply for 1 or 2 credit cards at a time. I made sure to research how opening credit cards impacted my credit score. Sure enough, our credit scores have increased above 800 since opening cards. We make sure to pay all balances in full each month.
There are tremendous guides on this site for using specific sign-up bonuses for Big Travel! These can be extremely helpful when figuring out where you can go and how to book.
Pay With Cash? Or Book With Points?
When you build up your miles and points savings, you might be inclined to use them for every flight and hotel. It’s definitely personal preference, but sometimes you can pay cash and save your miles and points to get more value for a different trip.
For example, we paid ~$1,421 each to fly Emirates Business Class from Cape Town to Bali with a layover in Dubai. The same flight would have cost more than 100,000 Emirates miles each. Instead, we used 100,000 points towards a Singapore Airlines First Class Suites flight that normally costs more than $7,000!
Paying for flights or stays could help earn bonus points or miles too! With our Emirates Business Class flight, we credited the miles to JetBlue because we’ll be flying JetBlue sooner. Especially, after our extremely positive experience flying JetBlue’s Mint Business Class!
Don’t save your miles and points forever. You never know when an airline or hotel program might increase the cost of an award flight or free stay.
My wife and I used many resources to plan our flights, hotels, excursions, and restaurant reservations for our honeymoon. My favorite way to plan for a big trip is to talk with friends and family who may have visited the countries before.
We also used sites like TripAdvisor to read reviews from folks who have gone on the excursion or stayed at the hotel. This is how we decided to eat at Restaurant Vinkeles in Amsterdam, which was an amazing experience!
- Book a luxury desert safari excursion in Dubai
- Book dinner reservations in Amsterdam
- Research the top hotels in Amsterdam and Singapore
- Review excursions and things to do in Bali
My last suggestion for planning is to research promotions that can save more money or enhance your trip experience. For example, we used Starwood’s 5th night free perk to book our stay at the St. Regis Bali. This extended our stay an extra night, at no added cost!
We visited 5 countries on an around-the world honeymoon using mostly miles and points to fly Business Class or First Class and stay at 5-star hotels. With the right planning and research, you could enjoy Big Travel with Small Money as well!
My 5 tips for making your trip a reality are:
- Determine if you’re getting good value using points or if you should pay cash
- Earn miles and points with transferable points programs
- Plan your trip using tools like TripAdvisor or by using credit card concierge services
- Set goals and timelines for miles and points earning
- Take advantage of limited-time sign-up bonuses or offers
Finally, enjoy your trip with and make unforgettable memories!